Monday, September 3, 2007

Discussions with My AGM Roommate

One exciting aspect of my Jane Austen adventure in October is that I opted for the roommate matching, in order to save money and share a room in Vancouver. While saving money is a benefit, I think it will be great just to have a head start meeting new people in a place where all the faces will be new. The roommate I’ve been paired with works in a bookshop and will be coming to Vancouver from the other side of the USA. Her e-mails are friendly and it’s been fun getting acquainted. Here is a portion of our first e mail exchange, starting with my letter to her. Names have been omitted.

Thank you for reserving the room. I will be getting there Thursday afternoon sometime and staying till around noon on Sunday. The room sounds perfect.
I live in the mountains in Washington, so the trip to Vancouver is just a couple hours drive for me.
It will be so fun to be around people who love Jane Austen as much as I do. I think I drive everyone crazy when a new movie is coming out.

I'll tell you a little about me...
I have a husband and three daughters. Besides reading, I like oil painting, scrapbooking and other art crafts, but I never have time to do them. My favorite Jane Austen is Mansfield Park. Right now I am reading Emma again to get into the spirit of it all!
This October is also my wedding anniversary and my husband and I are going to Disneyland without the kids.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Here is a portion of her e-mail to me:

After a few details about contacting the Hotel she writes:
I can't think of anything that would make me an undesirable hotelroom-mate----I don't snore and I can't imagine that I will be coming in very late at night.

I live in ------------ and belong to the -------- JASNA group. I have not ever attended an Annual General Mtg. before so I am *quite* excited about going! I am an assistant manager of ------------- independent bookshop, and if you're curious you can see my "staff picks". They only list the most recent, so my review of "Persuasion" is not on there, but the ones listed probably give some small idea of my personality.

Let me know what you think & best regards,
Awesome Roommate. (I added that part----FTSJ )


My Response,
I read your reviews and they are great. The book shop has a very nice web page too, I'd like to add. But your reviews were interesting and yet concise, (something I have a problem with sometimes). I'm going to have to get 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane' for my 10 year old. She has read 'because of Winn Dixie' once but she actually LOVES 'Tales of Despereaux' and has read it three times.

I'm going to go out on a limb here since you called yourself a progressive, and tell you in the spirit of full disclosure that I am a hard core conservative, sitting here typing in my Reagan sweatshirt, and hope you still like me. I am very excited to just have a full weekend of Jane Austen, so we can just focus on what brings us together if you want. Or we can just be ourselves and consider it a cultural exchange. :) Maybe we could keep a blog.

I am currently reading Emma again in my spare time, so I'll be ready for October. I want to make a regency gown, but I'll have to wait till I get my kids in school to start work, so I hope I can finish. I'm also going to attach a pic so you can put a face to the rambling……..


Roommate’s Response:
She also sent me a pleasant picture.
I had to chuckle! I'm sure we'll have a great time --maybe we SHOULD keep a blog (though I confess I'm not sure how to do that). I tell you what: I'll forgive the Reagan sweatshirt if you'll forgive my cheeky "Republicans For Voldemort" bumper sticker on my car......

Anyway, you have a great brood there; it looks like a happy family.

I will have to start re-reading Emma soon. The last Jane Austen book I re-read was "Sense and Sensibility" and that was because I was involved in a community theatre production of a play based on the book. I was Mrs. Dashwood, of course. That was a great deal of fun! We performed scenes from it for the local JASNA chapter.

I was hoping to have a gown made, but time is slipping away and it may not happen. Good luck with yours, and I'll see you on Thursday Oct.4th.

So, my roommate appears to be very nice, and I think I’m a pretty good roommate too. I like to have fun and maybe even be a little silly, but I’m not wild and am pretty good at reading people and adapting myself to their situation and personality.
One great thing about the roommate is she is active in her local JASNA group. I admire that. Mine is sort of far and I haven’t ever gone, though I would like to do that sometime. OK, now I don’t know if I should say ‘my’ roommate or ‘the’ roommate. ‘my’ sounds a little teenager and possessive, and ‘the’ sounds a little aloof and wry. Maybe it should just be a title, The Roommate.
You also have noticed that since that exchange I have started the blog, (Since you are reading it), It was an idea I had bouncing around in my head and finally asked my husband and kids how to start. One of my daughters said I should have a Jane picture rather than mine as an icon. I thought that was for your own picture, but you see I am still learning the ropes. I’ll see if I can find one.
My daughter just made twelve teeny cookies in her easy-bake oven. They were actually quite good.
OK, that was a little writer’s break. Where was I….Oh! The other thing about the pictures, is that from the start I wanted to put up a lot of pictures from the Jane Austen AGM when I go, and now I don’t know if I can do it here or if they can only be 100x100 like the icons. I want to put up a lot of pictures, so I’ll have to figure it out and look at some other sites to see what they are doing.
That thing about the easy bake cookies made it sound like I ate all twelve. I did not- I only had one.

I talked to my Mom yesterday and she had just finished Mansfield Park for the first time. She was heading out with Dad to take Grandma for a drive, and visit some of my siblings who are all out camping over the Labor Day weekend.
Mom said it had been a while since she had read ANY Jane Austen and she didn’t remember it being so full of humor and irony. One example we talked about was Mrs. Norris, easily the cruelest character in the book, and yet so much humor swirling around her grumpy conversations. I love it! There is no one like Jane. The edition she read had a long introduction dealing with Austen’s use of symbolism, particularly relating the improvement of land to the improvement and education of people. We discussed this theme a little but I would like to have carried it a little further. The theme adds great insight into the book and the characters and I’ve heard it discussed in various essays, but through my almost annual reading of Mansfield Park I have noticed other themes that I never hear discussed, and If I don’t run across it after a little more review I’ll write it up and post it here for you. Fanny Price is an angel. How I would love to see her, true as written, in the movies, or even better, perhaps a miniseries. But who could write her? Who could play her? I’m tired of seeing Fanny Price reduced to a vivacious bustle of scheming defiance. So unlike her.
She asked if I had finished Austenland, which she gave me for my birthday. I did, and I liked it too. It was a lighthearted little romance that was only the slightest bit steamy. I don’t read a lot of the Jane Austen related novels. Even a quick perusing at the bookstore will show me the book doesn’t pass my ‘blush factor’ and I don’t read much beyond what would be a PG rating. Hot scenes don’t make up for the incisive wit and realistically crafted personalities that Jane Austen created.
Mom had also found a copy of Persuasion and might start that. She is a 1st grade teacher and now that their school is in I know she won’t have as much time to read. Still, maybe I can persuade her to read it, or us both to read it together and discuss it over e-mail.

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